The Campaign Spot

Because Americans Yearn for the Approval of the Mexican Government

I suspect we’ll see much talk about the Mexican government’s new travel advisory for Arizona, declaring, “an adverse political atmosphere for migrant communities and for all Mexican visitors” and “it should be assumed that any Mexican citizen could be bothered and questioned for no other reason at any moment.”

Meanwhile, the U.S. warnings for Mexico remain in effect: “Violence by criminal elements affects many parts of the country, including urban and rural areas.  Visitors to the U.S.-Mexico border region, including cities such as Tijuana, Ciudad Juarez, Nuevo Laredo, Nogales, and Matamoros should remain alert and be aware of their surroundings at all times.  In its efforts to combat violence, the Government of Mexico has deployed military troops to various parts of the country.  Military checkpoints increased in border areas in early 2008.  U.S. citizens are advised to cooperate with official checkpoints when traveling on Mexican highways. Sporadic outbursts of politically motivated violence occur from time to time in certain areas of the country, particularly in the southern states of Chiapas, Guerrero and Oaxaca…

In Ciudad Juarez, Monterrey, Nuevo Laredo, Matamoros, Nogales, Reynosa, and Tijuana, shootings have taken place at busy intersections and at popular restaurants during daylight hours.  The wave of violence has been aimed primarily at members of drug-trafficking organizations, the military, criminal justice officials, and journalists.  However, foreign visitors and residents, including U.S. citizens, have been among the victims of homicides and kidnappings in the border region. U.S. citizens are urged to be especially aware of safety and security concerns when visiting the border region and exercise common-sense precautions such as visiting only legitimate business and tourist areas of border towns during daylight hours.  U.S. citizens who frequently make routine visits to border cities should vary their routes and times and are urged to park in well-lighted, guarded and paid parking lots.  Exercise caution when entering or exiting your vehicle and instruct all fellow travelers to enter and exit the vehicle safely and quickly.

Mexican authorities have failed to prosecute numerous crimes committed against U.S. citizens, including murders and kidnappings.  Local police forces suffer from a lack of funds and training, and the judicial system is weak, overworked, and inefficient.  Criminals, armed with an impressive array of weapons, know there is little chance they will be caught and punished.  In some cases, assailants were wearing full or partial police uniforms and have vehicles that resemble police vehicles, indicating that some elements of the police may have been involved.”

Also note this bit of non-reciprocity the next time you see a crowd of illegal immigrants demanding their right to remain in the country: “The Mexican Constitution prohibits political activities by foreigners; such actions may result in detention and/or deportation.  Travelers should avoid political demonstrations and other activities that might be deemed political by the Mexican authorities.  Even demonstrations intended to be peaceful can turn confrontational and escalate into violence.  U.S. citizens are urged to avoid areas of demonstrations, and to exercise caution if in the vicinity of any protests.”

So the possibility that legal visitors from Mexico could experience “an adverse political environment” during their visit is unfortunate. But it pales in comparison to, say, kidnapping and murder with cooperation of elements of the local police.